Banking in the United States

Updated July 22, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Here are key moments in the history of U.S. banking


The first U.S. commerical bank is incorporated in Philadelphia, the Bank of North America.


The First Bank of the United States is chartered.


A severe financial panic sweeps the nation, reaching its peak on Sept. 24, which becomes known as Black Friday.


The United States adopts the gold standard. U.S. currency is equal to and exchangeable for gold.


The Federal Reserve System is created.


The stock market crashes on October 24, and becomes known as “Black Thursday.”


The Great Depression begins. Nearly 10,000 banks fail.


The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is established to protect deposits against bank failure. The United States ends the domestic gold standard. U.S. currency is no longer equal to or exchangeable for gold.


Federal Reserve Board becomes the Board of Governors, membership terms are set at 14 years.


Bank of America issued the BankAmericard (now Visa), the first bank credit card.


The first automated teller machine (ATM) begins operating in Rockville Centre, N.Y.


Massive failures of savings and loan associations begin. By the end of the decade, more than 500 are shut down.


Alan Greenspan becomes chair of the board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.


More than 160,000 automated teller machines (ATMs) are operating across the United States.


More than 73 million debit cards have been issued in the United States.


New $20 bill featuring background colors and improved security features is issued. A new $50 bill follows in 2004.


In late 2007, a global financial crisis begins, triggered by a liquidity shortfall in the U.S. banking system. Called the Great Recession, many economists consider it to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.


The Federal Reserve Bank of New York provides an emergency loan to avoid the collapse of Bear Stearns, a global investment bank based in New York. However, the company cannot be saved due to heavy investor losses, especially mortgage-backed assets, which add to the subprime mortgage crisis. JP Morgan Chase buys Bear Stearns in March.

In September, the fourth largest investment bank, Lehman Brothers, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after seeing drastic losses in clients and stocks. It is the largest bankruptcy filling in U.S. history.

The country's largest savings and loan association, Washington Mutual Bank, and its holding company, Washington Mutual, Inc., file for bankruptcy just days after Lehman Brothers. It is the second largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 is passed in October. The $700 billion financial bailout bill allows the U.S. government to buy non-liquid assets from banks and other financial institutions.


The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act becomes federal law. The purpose of the bill is to improve accountability and transparency to the financial system after the recession. It brings the most significant changes to financial regulation since the regulations that followed the Great Depression.


For the first time in history, the U.S. has its credit rating lowered. Credit agency Standard & Poor's lowered the nation's credit rating from the top grade of AAA to AA+, removing the U.S. from its list of risk-free borrowers.


In October, the Federal Reserve begins distributing a redesigned $100 bill. The redesign has new security features to help businesses and consumers tell if it is counterfeit.

Sources +